Years ago I attended a retreat that the incredible Jennifer Thoreson hosted. It was a workshop surrounding fine art portraiture but it turned out to be oh so much more. It was the first time I had truly felt at home in my work, truly gave myself permission to be the artist that up to that point I felt I was pretending at. I still regularly go through my journal from that retreat and today when I opened it up the first sentence was, “Trust your process. It is what is your’s uniquely.”
In August I was lucky enough to visit Taos to photograph the elopement of my friends Nik & Nini. Before that trip Jenn had written to me that if ever I was in her neck of the woods for a documentary family photography session to let her know and I did exactly that. I drove down to Albuquerque, taking my time driving from Taos and exploring some of Santa Fe. I listened to an audio book and thought about that retreat and how this trip to NM in general felt like a full circle of sorts. That it was the retreat that really put me on the path that I was on and that path was leading me back.
At the time of the retreat I was in the midst of a relationship separation that was big and painful and took a lot of time and energy to move through. My marriage was falling apart and it was very evident to me while at the retreat that it was time to acknowledge it. In my grief over the loss of that relationship I had taken a step away from family photography completely. I was devastated over the loss of a family that we never built and it was painful to document these connections. It was a few years before I found that deeper purpose again- that deeper drive to find those connections and know that it’s okay to grieve and that my grief maybe would make me see family connections in a deeper way.
So when I was driving to photograph Jenn & her beautiful family I thought about how far my journey had come since then, and how far their journey had come as well. She was just pregnant with her first child at the time of the retreat and their family has grown so much since then. I was so honored she asked me to document their relationships. I was also so honored to witness her Prayer Glove project that I hope you’ll take a moment to learn about. I spent the evening with them in their home and in the place they love to take family walks and it was an evening that I think will be imprinted on me just as much as her retreat is.
Her boys, Asa & Eli are incredible little humans. Deeply intelligent, kind & caring in ways that just made me want to tear up. Asa gave me a wildflower he found along the trail and it made it’s way home with me and now sits in a special display case where all of my most treasured items live. Eli would find little flowers along the walk and tuck them into his little pocket to keep them safe. Jenn and her partner are raising the best of people and I can’t wait to meet them again when I’m sure we’ve all grown and changed again.
All of this is to say that I am so grateful that I can trust my process now. I am so grateful that my clients trust my process. I am so grateful that my grief gave space for empathy and connection. I am so grateful that I have grown. I am so grateful.